Project Lead: Lupita Montoya

About 65% of all Navajo households and almost 90% of those in rural areas rely on wood and coal to heat their homes, often using old, poorly ventilated and inefficient stoves. The negative health effects of this practice in the Navajo community could be greatly reduced by changing indoor heating behaviors and improving heating stove quality. Professor Montoya and her research team conducted three studies focused on the home heating needs of the Navajo Nation. First, they developed a framework to identify the most effective and suitable heating alternative for this community. Next, they utilized a representative residential wood stove to determine emission factors for four relevant solid fuels used by the Navajo. Lastly, they used a cellular oxidative stress model to assess the oxidative and inflammatory effects of the fine particulate matter from those emissions. Combined, these studies provided guidance for a current intervention in the Navajo Nation that includes an EPA-certified dual (wood/coal) stove designed specifically for this community. The team is now completing a pilot study assessing the first roll-out of these new stoves. The stove intervention will involve between 500 and 700 households and will take five years to complete. Read more.

Research by:  Assistant Professor Lupita Montoya and graduate students Wyatt M. Champion (PhD 2017) and Naomi Chang (MS 2019)

Typical stove for home in Navajo Nation    Example of before and after new dual stove installation from Spring 2018

A Pilot Study of VOC Exposure in Front Range Nail Salons

Studies have documented that workers in nail salons are exposed to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), including toluene, ethyl acetate, isopropyl acetate, methyl methacrylate and formaldehyde. These chemicals are known to cause skin and eye irritation, respiratory problems, allergies, neurological issues, and cancerl. Despite the serious risks associated with VOC exposure in the workplace, strong regulations do not currently exist. These exposure risks disproportionately affect minority groups and women who make up the majority of the industry's workforce. This group is comprised of manicurists, pedicurists, makeup artists, shampooers, and skin care specialists. Results from the pilot study indicate that Colorado nail salons are a hazardous working environment, and that interventions are necessary to safeguard the health of underserved workers in this industry. Future work will focus on the development of intervention strategies to mitigate VOC exposure in nail salons including the use of novel, low-cost mitigation technologies. Read more. 

Research by:  Assistant Professor Lupita Montoya and graduate students Aaron Lamplugh, Feng Xiang and Janice Trinh